chief charge was, that weeks before he had been concerned in treasonable acts.
Was not the judicial authority there to take charge of him, and, if convicted, to punish him?
If there was a necessity in the present state of affairs, and Congress in session here, then what a long necessity we have before us and impending over us. Let Congress approve and ratify these acts, and there may occur a necessity which will justify the President
in superseding the law in every State in this Union, and there will not be a vestige of civil authority left to raise against this usurpation of military power.
But I deny this doctrine of necessity.
I deny that the President
of the United States
may violate the Constitution
upon the ground of necessity.
The doctrine is utterly subversive of the Constitution
It substitutes the will of one man for a written Constitution.
The Government of the United States
, which draws its life from the Constitution
, does not rest upon an implied consent.
It rests upon an express and written consent, and the Government
may exercise such powers and such only as are given in this written form of government.
The people of these States conferred on this agent of theirs just such powers as they deemed necessary.
All others were retained.
The Constitution was made for all contingencies — for peace, and for war; and they conferred all the power they deemed necessary, and more cannot be assumed.
If the powers be not sufficient, still none others were granted, and none others can be exercised.
Will this be denied?
Is the idea to be advanced that all constitutional questions are to be made subordinate entirely to the opinions and ideas that may prevail at the hour with reference to political unity?
It has been held heretofore, and I thought it was axiomatic and received by the world, that the terms of the Constitution of the United States
were the measure of power on the one side, and of obedience on the other.
Let us take care how we establish a principle that, under any presumed stress of circumstances, powers not granted may be assumed.
Take care and do not furnish an argument to the world and history, that it shall not respect that authority which no longer respects its own limitations.
These are a few of the reasons that will control my vote against this resolution.
I hope it will be voted upon, and if it should receive a majority, as I fear it will, it will be an invitation to the President
of the United States
, in the absence of all legislation, to do the acts whenever, in his opinion, it may be necessary.
What will be the effect of it in Kentucky
, and Missouri
, and elsewhere?
In his discretion he will feel himself warranted in subordinating the civil to the military power, and to imprison citizens without the warrant of law, and to suspend the writ of habeas corpus
, and establish martial law, to make searches and suppress the press, and to do all those acts which rest on the will and authority of a military commander.
In my judgment, if we pass this, we are on the eve of putting, so far as we can, in the hands of the President
of the United States
, the power of a dictator.
With such a beginning as this, what are we to expect in the future?
When we see men imprisoned within hail of the capitol
, without warrant, and Congress in session, and the courts paralyzed, and Congress not rising in a protest of indignant terms against it, we may well be filled with gloomy forebodings for the future.
What may we expect, except a line of conduct in keeping with what has been done?
Is this a contest to preserve the Union
If so, then it should be waged in a constitutional manner.
Is the doctrine to obtain that provinces are to be entirely subordinated to the idea of political unity?
Shall the rallying cry be, the Constitution
and the Union
, or are we prepared to say that the Constitution
is gone, but the Union
What sort of a Union would it be?
Let this principle be announced, and let us carry on this contest with this spirit, winking at or approving the violations of this sacred instrument, and the people will soon begin to inquire what will become of our liberties at the end of the experiment?
The pregnant question for us to decide is, whether the Constitution
is to be respected in this struggle, or whether we are called upon to follow the flag over the ruins of the Constitution
I believe, without questioning the motives of any, the whole tendency of the present proceedings is to establish a government without limitations, and radically to change our frame and character of Government.
I was told the other day by a distinguished American, that many Americans
abroad, when asked this question about the present condition of things here, “We thought your Federal Government rested on consent, and how do you propose to maintain it by force?”
the answer would often be, “It was intended to rest on consent, but it has failed.
It is not strong enough, and we intend to make it strong enough, and to change the character of the Government
, and we will give it all the strength we deem essential without regard to the provisions of the Constitution
, which was made some eighty years ago, and has been found not fit for the present condition of affairs.”
I think it is well that the attention of the country should be called to the tendency of things.
I know there are thoughtful conservative men--thousands of men who love the Constitution
— scattered through the adhering States, who would never consent to make this contest with any purpose to interfere with the personal rights of political communities.
He then referred to a suggestion in a Northern paper that a change in the character of the Government
was contemplated, and also a speech made by the present Secretary of War
, in which he said the Southern States
must be subdued, and, at the end of this contest, there would be no Virginians
, as such, or Carolinians, but all would be Americans
I call on Senators
to defend the constitutionality of these acts, or else admit that they carry on this contest without